I’d like to share a valuable technique with you that I often use for myself and my students.
If you notice that you are struggling with a new chord, technique or piece of music, pause for a minute to step back, remove your hands from the instrument and take a deep breath. This will help to change your mindset from struggle to relaxation.
When you are relaxed you will be better able to focus on fixing the problem rather than trying to fight your way through it.
At this point, close your eyes and just visualize what it is you are trying to do. If you are trying to play a difficult phrase then picture your fingers doing exactly what they need to do.
As you do this keep the following points in mind:
- Picture yourself moving your fingers in the most efficient way possible. Every finger should move directly to where it needs to go with no extra motion at all.
- Every move you make should be fluid and with as little exertion as possible.
- Imagine with all of your might – picture exactly what it will look like in full color and full detail. Picture what the strings and the neck and the pick will feel like. Imagine what it will sound like.
- If you are practicing something to use for live performance, picture yourself playing it in front of a room full of people.
- Picture yourself playing with perfect technique – proper hand position, nice clean notes, amazing tone.
Also, try pretending to be someone else as you play. I remember watching a video of an Eric Clapton performance once. After it was over, I grabbed my guitar and started playing. In my head I was picturing Clapton as he was ripping through a solo. I found that I was getting the “vibe” of Clapton’s playing. Some of the energy, tone and technique was finding its way into my own playing. I felt like I was not in control but I was just watching as my body created this fantastic music.
I have used this technique for myself and shared it with my students and it has produced some great results. Your success with it depends largely on your willingness to participate. You might feel silly or childish pretending to be someone else. You need to get over that to really benefit from this technique.
If you imagine with all of your ability that you ARE your favorite guitar player you will become a better player for it. If your playing benefits from it – why not do it? Besides, no one has to know what’s in your head as you play. That space is your own to share or keep to yourself as you like.
Visualization gives you a great way to practice without having access to a guitar. In fact, it’s a great way to practice even if you do have access to one. By eliminating the distraction of actually playing the instrument you can zone in on what needs to go on inside your head to be a successful player.